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August 24, 2017

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) declared a pre-emptive state of disaster for 30 counties, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) set up a crisis task force to prepare for Tropical Storm Harvey, expected to make landfall in Texas on Friday night or Saturday morning as a Category 1 hurricane. The National Weather Service and state and local officials are especially worried about Harvey because it is slow-moving and expected to dump 10-15 inches of rain or more on Houston and surrounding areas over the weekend as it crawls northeastward. The National Weather Service issued its first-ever storm surge watch for Calhoun County, Texas, some 150 miles southwest of Houston, meaning that water could rise 4 to 6 feet above ground.

Harvey "could become the first major natural disaster of the Trump presidency," warns Eric Holthaus at Grist. "This is the kind of storm you drop everything to pay attention to." It has already been a wet August for the Texas Gulf Coast, and so the ground is saturated and primed to flood, while Houston is especially vulnerable to devastating floods because of poor city planning and lots of pavement, he notes, and the worst models have 20 to 40 inches of rain dumping on parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Then there's the warming climate, Holthaus says:

Floods like the one in the worst Harvey forecasts have come at an increasingly frequent pace. Since the 1950s, the Houston area has seen a 167 percent increase in heavy downpours. At least four rainstorms so severe they would occur only once in 100 years under normal conditions have hit the area since May 2015. With a warmer climate comes faster evaporation and a greater capacity for thunderstorms to produce epic deluges. ... If Harvey's rains hit the coast with anywhere near the force of the most alarming predictions, we'd be in for disaster. And judging by how New Orleans and Houston have handled recent rains, coupled with the state of federal disaster relief, we're not ready for it. [Grist]

You can read more about Harvey's dangers at Grist. Peter Weber

2:24 p.m. ET

Mere minutes after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was a 'no' on the Graham-Cassidy bill, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel was tweeting his thanks. Kimmel's rapid response solidified just how invested he is in stopping the GOP health-care bill, which he has been tenaciously criticizing all week.

Though McCain hasn't technically completely killed Republicans' latest attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as he did in July when he cast the deciding vote, his opposition nudges the Graham-Cassidy bill that much closer to its demise. Already, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his opposition, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday she's "leaning against" voting in favor of the bill.

Three 'no' votes would kill the bill, and make Kimmel's day. Becca Stanek

2:12 p.m. ET

In the words of one confused White House official to Politico, "no one is quite sure what [Tom Price] is doing." Trump's health and human services secretary has reportedly exceeded $300,000 in chartered flights since last May, including one befuddling charge of $25,000 for a 135-mile flight from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., on a private jet.

Notably, President Trump campaigned as an enemy of wasteful government spending, even signing an order in March that required "a thorough examination of every executive department and agency, to see where money is being wasted, how services can be improved, and whether programs are truly serving American citizens," in the words of one White House official to the Washington Examiner.

Even more bewildering, Price himself has been an outspoken opponent of wasteful spending, as Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) pointed out Friday:

HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest defended Price's flights as necessary. "He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule," she told Politico, characterizing his flights on Learjets as evidence of his focus "on hearing from Americans across the country." Jeva Lange

2:11 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

An estimated 21 million Americans would be uninsured by 2026 if the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill becomes law, the nonpartisan Brookings Institute said Friday. By 2027, 32 million Americans would be without insurance under the GOP's latest attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as opposed to if ObamaCare were to remain law.

Brookings calculated a score in the absence of one from the Congressional Budget Office, which has announced it won't have its complete analysis ready until after Republicans' Sept. 30 deadline to pass the bill on a simple majority vote. Brookings noted its number "likely underestimates the reductions in insurance coverage," as it does not account for the challenges states may face as they set up their own health-care systems. "Some states might elect to begin the process of winding down their Medicaid expansion prior to 2020, which could also add to coverage losses during this period," the report said.

On Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined Sen. Rand Paul in opposing the bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also revealed Friday that she's "leaning against" the bill. Three 'no' votes would kill the bill. Becca Stanek

2:06 p.m. ET

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday that he will not vote for the Republican health-care bill, effectively killing the GOP's last chance at passing legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare before their Sept. 30 deadline. McCain already stunned his colleagues in the Senate earlier this year when he torpedoed another Republican health-care bill with a tie-breaking no vote in July.

Named for sponsors Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the bill would convert ObamaCare's subsidies and Medicaid payments to block grants to states plus cut Medicaid sharply. "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," McCain said in a statement. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried."

The GOP can only lose three votes, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have also already come out against the bill. Jeva Lange

1:25 p.m. ET

CVS Pharmacy announced Friday that it will be limiting opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain patients, including those who are new to prescription pain medications, CNN reports. The pharmacy's decision comes as opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999 despite the fact that there has been no significant rise in conditions calling for such medications among American patients.

An estimated 900,000 Americans overdosed in 2015, with over 30,000 of those overdoses fatal and stemming from opioid drugs. Opioids are the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. STAT estimated earlier this year that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade.

CVS pharmacists also plan to teach patients about the risk of addiction that comes with the pain medications, and insist on the importance of keeping the drugs somewhere secure. "With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse," said CVS Health's president and CEO, Larry J. Merlo.

The pharmacy will roll out the changes beginning Feb. 1, 2018. Jeva Lange

1:17 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Friday that she's "leaning against" voting for the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill. Collins said that as she's "reading the fine print" of the GOP's latest effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, she's realizing that insurers "could charge sky-high rates to people with pre-existing conditions," The Portland Press Herald reported. "The premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable," Collins said.

Still, Collins said she'll wait on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office before she makes her final call. However, the CBO has said its complete analysis likely won't be complete until after Sept. 30, Republicans' deadline to pass the bill by a majority vote.

Already, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his opposition, and three 'no' votes would kill the bill. Republicans are angling for a vote next week. Becca Stanek

12:13 p.m. ET

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci appeared Friday on The View to dish about his fleeting tenure at the White House — and he didn't hold back. When Scaramucci was asked who he thinks is the "most annoying, horrible person in the Oval Office, the most unlikeable," he named not one person, but two. "How do you think I got along with Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon? You thought that was a good relationship?" Scaramucci said, describing the experience of working with them as "rough."

"What was Bannon's worst quality, in your opinion?" The View's Joy Behar asked. After naming a couple of Bannon's redeeming qualities, Scaramucci revealed that he thinks the former chief strategist "had a little bit of a messianic complex." "You know, people that have messianic complexes, they think they're the answer, they think they're the solution. And what we know about our country and we know about our government — thank God — it's set up as a system of checks and balances where it has to be a collaboration," Scaramucci said.

And then one of the hosts brought up the fact that some people think Bannon is a "white nationalist." "I would say that he has those tendencies," Scaramucci said.

Watch it below. Becca Stanek

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